Can I Print My Own Checks On Regular Paper?

Checks may not legally be printed on regular printer paper.

However, you can print them yourself legally from the comfort of your own home as long as you use appropriate equipment and supplies.

In addition, you must also abide by certain requirements, one of which is to ensure that you print on a special kind of paper, referred to as check stock paper.

Other things to be mindful of include:

  • the type of printer capable of printing checks correctly
  • the type of printing ink, and
  • printing software

What kind of paper can I print checks on?

Whether they are printed at home, at the bank, or by a third party, checks must always be printed on check stock paper.

Firstly, you will need to purchase check stock paper online or at an office supply store.

It is more expensive than regular paper. So, you can expect to pay $0.15-0.50/check, depending on the quantity purchased.

If you want to print checks for business uses, you may want to opt for check stock with added security features.

Check security features

These cost a little bit more but include features like foil holograms, heat-sensitive icons, watermarks, and prismatic multicolor backgrounds. 

Are there any laws against printing your own checks?

While there aren’t any laws against printing your own checks at home, there are certain requirements. 

Firstly, you must print an accurate routing and account number of an account that you hold in a bank or credit union on the check. Doing otherwise would constitute check fraud.

Secondly, besides being printed on check stock paper, you must ensure that the MICR line along the bottom of the check is printed in magnetic ink.

What part of a check needs special ink to print checks?

The reason that magnetic ink is required for the MICR line on the check is to allow special machines to read it. This is the section on the check containing the account and routing numbers.

You can recognize the presence of magnetic ink on checks by its raised, dull surface.

The absence of this type of ink on this line may be a sign of a forged check. If you try to cash a check that does not magnetic ink for the MICR line, the bank will reject it.

This scenario may also arise if you fold your check excessively, particularly if you are stashing the check in your wallet, causing the magnetic ink to potentially fade around the creases.

The only way it may be accepted is if someone uses their smartphone to take a photo of the check and deposits it remotely through their bank’s mobile app, so long as the check details are still readable.

But this does not change the fact that the check was illegally printed.

Do you need special ink to print checks at home?

If the check stock paper on which you intend to print is bought off-the-shelf, it will not yet have an MICR line. Which means, you would need to make an effort to print it yourself with magnetic ink.

This includes printing the routing, account and check number on each check.

Many online check stock brands however, offer solutions shipped with the MICR line preprinted on it in magnetic ink already.

This can be arranged during the process of ordering the checks, where you will have to share your bank account information to include on the check.

You can print the remaining information on the checks, which includes at least the date, amount, payee and payer.

Laser printer

This can be achieved using any type of printer you might have, including an inkjet, laser, or an offset printer.

What kind of printer uses magnetic ink?

If you purchased off-the-shelf check stock paper, and therefore need to print your own MICR line, a laser printer would be your best bet as it would have the capability of printing with magnetic ink.

Note however, that standard toner cartridges that come with your laser printer are not acceptable.

You would need to buy special laser printer toner cartridges that contain magnetic particles, or an iron oxide additive.

Businesses who wish to print their own checks using stock without a preprinted MICR line must use proper MICR toner to ensure they are compliant.

Do I need special software to print my own checks?

You do need software designed for printing checks, but you likely won’t have to spend anything to get it.

You may already have the software you need to print your own checks. Check writing ability comes with accounting software programs your business may already have, including Quickbooks, Quicken, or NetSuite.

Each one offers pre-designed templates with which to use for printing relevant information onto your check.

If none of these proprietary software is unavailable to you, you can also opt for free check printing software, including CheckRobot, ezCheckPrinting, and PDFSimpli, just to name a few.

What are the advantages of printing your own checks?

In the context of running your business for scalability, it can save time and money. By avoiding handwritten checks, you are opting for a printing process that is reliable, less prone to error, and available at any time.

Your checks will also look more professional. With the capability provided by check printing software, you can even go as far as branding your checks with your business logo.

If your business location or name changes, simply update your software to reflect this new information before printing your new checks.

Is it cheaper to print your own checks?

While it can be, printing your own checks isn’t always cheaper.

Depending on your current and ongoing needs, printing your own checks could be a smart long-term solution.

For example, if you will be writing checks infrequently, it may not be worthwhile buying check stock paper, setting up check writing software, and learning the whole check printing process.

Your decision also depends on:

  • the cost of each check
  • initial capital investment, and
  • how many checks you intend to print

Let’s take for example, the costs involved in printing your own checks:

Number of checksCost per checkTotal check costInitial capitalOverall cost
Costs of printing your own checks

For arguments sake, you also purchase a laser printer for $300, magnetic ink for $50, and other accessories totalling $50, which equates to the initial capital of $400 in each case.

Consider the following scenario, where you buy the check directly from the bank, costing you $2 each:

Number of checksCost per checkTotal check costInitial capitalOverall cost
Costs of purchasing your checks from the bank

Depending on how many checks you intend to write and the cost of each check, it may be more worth while purchasing directly from the bank.

Clearly, if you were to print thousands of checks, investing in the necessary equipment would be more beneficial long term.

How can I get checks immediately?

If your need for a check is infrequent, it may prove more efficient and cost-effective to just obtain one from your bank.

You can ask for an instant counter check from the teller. Some banks will print them for you, others will not. Those that do usually charge a small fee, like $1-2 per check.

If you don’t have check stock and need just one check right away, this may be your best choice.

But before doing this, make sure the payee is willing and able to accept a counter check.

Some businesses do not, since there is minimal printed information on it that can give people a cause to be concerned that it has been forged.

If the check is for a person who knows and trusts you, it may not be a problem.

Regardless, in either case, if you need a check urgently and want to be sure it will be accepted, you can get a cashier’s check at the bank for an additional fee.

Otherwise, the next best thing to printing your own check immediately is perhaps to have someone else print it for you.

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